Roller coasters are supposed to be fun. Their steel structures stand tall against the backdrop of the sky, and as they barrel down their pre-determined course, one can hear children screaming in delight through ups, downs, loops, switches and unexpected twists and turns.
Playoff race roller coasters are not so fun.
It’s easy to be pessimistic and write off the Angels playoff hopes right about now. After being brought to the highest highs with several series sweeps, the Halos have been brought back to Earth, now trailing in the wild card race. There are two options presented to us as fans: We can mope and complain and look to next season or we can start thinking about how to solve our problems.
The order of the day is this: Snap Mark Trumbo out of his slump.
Now is not the time for people to be saying “told you so”. Far from it, we must look to the future if we are to help Mark Trumbo re-ignite his bat and help the Angels make the playoffs. Fans of the Major League movies may remember Pedro Cerrano trying to sacrifice a chicken to the voodoo deity Jobu in an attempt to hit curveballs. It’s an amusing visual, but it holds a bit of merit in this situation in that players and fans both recognize that slumps are largely due to mental blocks. Something as simple as driving to the ballpark by a different route (or lighting incense for a voodoo god) can jar loose stressful thoughts and allow a hitter to get back into a groove. Trumbo may need a similar shake-up to bring back the power bat that crushed homers into the fountains of Kauffman Stadium.
There exists a school of thought. It may not be a popular viewpoint, but it must be given voice: There is a possibility, however small, that Mark Trumbo is suffering from some sour grapes. It’s no secret that Mike Trout is everywhere in MLB news these days. A few short months ago, Trumbo was lighting up headlines with his explosive power, and now those same front pages are singing the praises of Mike Trout. Maybe Trumbo needs to let go of a little Trout-envy and vent his feelings. Since such feelings can be viewed as immature, perhaps the easiest way to go about this is to embrace the immaturity! Simply put, Trout and Trumbo should have an old-fashioned sleepover.
Can’t you just see it? T n’ T bringing their sleeping bags to Scioscia’s house for a night in, ordering pizza, playing Ken Griffey Jr. Major League Baseball on Super Nintendo, Scioscia having to come downstairs and give a disapproving Sciosciaface for two youngsters that are up WAY too late. A classic “best buds” hang-out might be just the ticket to help Trumbo relax and rekindle his ability to bang fastballs into the left field bullpen.
Whether the solution be a sleepover or another method, it must be found soon. The old standby excuse of “lots of baseball left” no longer holds. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, we are hurtling towards the playoffs faster than Peter Bourjos stealing second. Trumbo has it in him to be a cornerstone in the future of the Angels organization, but the time is now to stake that claim and cement his future as a throwback jersey.
If he doesn’t take that step, he’ll have all October to think about where he went wrong.